Gifts Today magazine

United Oddsocks named Herts Business of the Year

An odd idea about socks has been turned into an award-winning gift business.

At the annual Hertfordshire Business Awards, presented by the Federation of Small Businesses, Hitchin-based sock company United Oddsocks was named Enterprising Business of the Year and also overall Business of the Year, much to the delight of company MD Gary Schaffer.

“This is a massive accolade for us,” said Gary. “Selling funky socks that deliberately don’t match was one of those classic down-the-pub throwaway ideas that people have all the time. But we were actually mad enough to give it a go and look where we are now – selling two and a half millions socks a year and being named the best business in Hertfordshire. I couldn’t be any more chuffed.”

Gary founded United Oddsocks with partner Paul Hughes and they sold their first pair of non-matching socks in 2006. For the next few years they slowly built up the business attracting new customers mainly through word of mouth. “When you start a business from scratch it’s a lot of hard graft with no guarantee of reward, so you need little signs of encouragement along the way,” explained Gary. “I well remember the huge buzz I got when I first spotted a complete stranger wearing a pair of our socks, and I thought ‘we could be on to something here’”.

Gary puts United Oddsocks’ success down to a simple formula of producing high quality and innovative products, backed up by a dedicated and creative team providing “fantastically friendly” customer service. As a result, according to Gary, customers are incredibly loyal and are “like family to us”.

“Winning Business of the Year means so much to us because you always have that nagging doubt that you’re the only person who thinks what you’re doing is a good idea. Now it’s official that other people think what we’re doing is a good idea as well.”

And adding to the good news Gary has also recently been elected to The GA's national committee.

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